My dearest leprechauns:
First of all – Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Which was last week but I hope you (a) got drunk and (b) did not get pinched by an attention-seeking reprobate. I am firmly on the record in opposition to that stupid tradition employed by only the least interesting people who have ever lived. Get a hobby!
Lest we forget that Ireland is absolutely packed to the rafters with ghosts, vampires, clan-ghouls, fairies, and all things horrific and magical, you can get a refresher course from 2021’s newsletter. Slainte!
I have some super exciting news to share with you guys – we have a new website!! Here Lies a Story Dot Com has an absolutely gorgeous new look. We have all the content in one place, including Insta posts and archived newsletters. We have a useful search feature, and we have a FULL ARCHIVE IN ORDER. Meaning you can go backwards in time and read at your leisure, something that I’m sure you’re all dying to do.
We also have a new tagline: True Tales of California Gothic.
As this project has evolved I’m starting to think about it differently. What started as “just ghosts” has morphed into an exploration of what makes San Francisco, and California, what it is. Straight up history only tells us so much. There’s a lot left out, and a lot to find in the subtext. Stories, conspiracy theories, and local legends are where the rubber hits the road, culturally speaking. Stories tell us how we see ourselves and society – and that shit doesn’t always line up with what the history books tell us.
Gothic means different things to different audiences. Obviously it’s platform Docs, Ministry, and black lipstick. Maybe a clove. Wednesday Adams, our culture is not your costume!!!! (this is Kerri’s joke, thank you Kerri).
English Gothic LITERATURE, you guys, is something different but related. Think haunted castles, dreary islands, and women locked up in attics. Lots of heavy death symbolism, lots of social critique disguised as horror. Mary Shelley is the OG Gothic fiction writer and we would do well to remember that in Frankenstein, the monster is the doctor – and by extension, US. Not the poor creature stitched together from dead body parts.
American gothic has its own flavor, because of freedom. Just kidding – it’s the fucking Puritans. It’s always the Puritans!! When they weren’t enacting categorically horrifying shit on their newly stolen land, they were spreading real terror about Hell. The Puritans fucking LOVED Hell, and the obsession with sin is still a big part of our culture. One need look no further than the current mind-bendingly stupid moral panic over drag performers. From our deep repression and hypocrisy come the likes of Poe and Hawthorne.
California Gothic – WELL. Hold my beer, I’m about to go full Kirkland Brand English Major. Place is very important in gothic writing, and definitely in mine. San Francisco, and by extension California, are places of extreme beauty and constant, inescapable newness. This is the land of the rebirth – we have a fucking phoenix on our city crest, you guys! We die and regenerate with lightning speed and we are pathologically focused on the future. Look back and reflect? Fuck you there are apps to develop! Neighborhoods to gentrify! Resources to exploit. Now get out of the way before a Tesla with the co-exist sticker mows you down like a child shaped traffic cone.
The truth is that we are absolutely haunted by our past, and it shows up if you know where to look at it – stories. Folklore, ghost stories, urban legends – we have them all and every last one of them tells us something about the present. I have so! Many! Examples! And I can’t wait to keep sharing them with you.
Thank you thank you thank you so much to Dante and Carolyn, who made this new site possible. May the wind be always at your back, along with any kind of ghost, lol.